TOMLIN ON STEELERS
For one of the rare times this offseason, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin held court with the media at the NFL owners meetings as all NFL coaches are forced to hold a media session at the annual coaches breakfast.
Among notable topics Tomlin addressed:
*Tomlin reiterated to reporters that it was his choice to hire Todd Haley and get rid of Bruce Arians, saying it was time for a change. “I want men who embrace Steelers legacy, ” Tomlin said on bringing Haley on board.
*Tomlin said Haley’s new playbook will bring some discomfort for Ben Roethlisberger and that the offense may use a fullback based on the personnel. Tomlin though indicated the blocking schemes won’t change much with offensive line coach Sean Kugler still in place.
*Via Scott Brown of the Tribune-Review, Tomlin mentioned inside linebacker, running back and defensive tackle as the Steelers primary needs through free agency or the draft. You can also add offensive line to that list which is viewed as a priority by the Steelers brass.
*The Steelers expect Rashard Mendenhall to play this season but Tomlin acknowledged he is likely to begin the season on the pup list, which has been expected. GM Kevin Colbert also said yesterday he expects Mendenhall to play this season, clairifying reports indicating otherwise last week. “To clarify, I said I never think players coming off an ACL injury are 100% recovered for a full year, ” Colbert said on Monday. “That doesnât mean he can’t play. I just donât think they are 100%. We will have Rashard back at some point this season. I am confident in that. We don’t know when. We won’t know that until he moves further down the road.”
*Tomlin said the Steelers will get another running back in some form or fashion via free agency or the draft. The Steelers going running back early in the draft in the second or third round is said to be a distinct possibility. The team has also had contact with Mewelde Moore about returning.
*At nose tackle with Casey Hampton expected to begin season on pup list, Tomlin called Steve McLendon a capable starter and mentioned Ziggy Hood as a player who could fill in during certain schemes.
*At inside linebacker, Tomlin expects Larry Foote to replace James Farrior as the primary starter and play well, while the team is hopeful Stevenson Sylvester also makes the jump in his third year and can produce in that spot.
*At the cornerback position, Tomlin said Keenan Lewis, Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen will battle for a starting cornerback spot opposite Ike Taylor. Due to experience, Lewis will go into OTA’s in May with a slight edge over Allen.
*The Steelers drafting a tackle or guard in the first round is among the likely scenarios for the team, in addition to inside linebacker and defensive tackle. Tomlin confirmed the Steelers hosted Ohio State tackle Mike Adams last week for a draft visit, a first round prospect. The team is also very high on Georgia Guard/tackle Cordy Glenn, another first round prospect.
*Tomlin was blunt with the media in that he has concerns about WR Emmanuel Sanders being able to stay healthy after recurring foot and knee injuries. Tomlin told reporters, “you can’t anticipate it’s going to stop.” Tomlin also mentioned Willie Colon falls into the same category with his recurring injuries. Like running back, wide receiver is a position the Steelers won’t turn the other way from early in the draft, most notably the second or third round, despite other needs. Steelers officials feel this is an extremely deep draft group at the wide out position.